A guest post by Barbara Jolie
You’ve probably read loads of management books and advice by now, especially if you’ve been a manager for a while. There are millions of metaphors employed in management literature, some more accurate than others. I particularly detest sports analogies, or machine ones, because I think they often may fail to consider the human aspect that’s inherent in managing people. People aren’t robots. One metaphor that isn’t usually applied is comparing management with teaching. As with all metaphors, the comparison doesn’t perfectly align, but it’s still worth considering. Take into account the following:
Managers, like teachers, should inspire
Of course, “inspiration” is often dramatized in those cheesy teacher movies that are all the rage on channels like Lifetime, and that sort of melodramatic inspiration is not what I’m talking. Inspiration, for both teachers and managers basically boils down to becoming a motivator. You’re inspirational when you can inspire your workers to really and truly want to work hard and excel at their jobs.
Teaching is all about encouraging a desire to learn. So is managing.
Although “schooling” may stop after one finishes their university education, learning never stops. In fact, learning basically anything new is one of the most basic sources of human happiness. Our brains essentially crave learning in any capacity. While most jobs can be pretty tedious, good managers will encourage their workers to continue learning in whatever way they can. Good managers will present their employees with new challenges that stretch their learning abilities.
Teachers are automatically authority figures. Managers earn their authority by first earning respect.
This is a big way in which teachers differ from managers. Teachers (especially teachers of younger students) come into the job with their authority already endowed. A teacher, after all, is an adult, and children must heed the instructions of adults, whether or not they like it. Of course, some managers do believe they come endowed automatically with authority. But you aren’t managing children; you’re managing your peers. An effective manager understands that their authority must be earned once their employees respect them. You earn respect by doing your job well and respecting and appreciating others’ unique talents, abilities, and opinions.
The goal of both teachers and managers is (or should be) to teach their charges to think for themselves.
If this statement it true, then micro-managing has no place in effective management. Good managers understand that there are millions of ways to complete any given task. If an employee feels comfortable doing certain things her way, and the result is the same as if she had done it your way, then her ability to do things on her own should be applauded and not punished. If you can teach an employee to think on her own, then half your work is done.
Of course, teachers and managers do each have a whole set of unique challenges. But I think the comparison can be a constructive one. It helped me to understand that managing can be just as difficult—and just as rewarding—as teaching. Good luck!
Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger. She is passionate about lifelong learning and online education. When Barbara is not blogging about all things education, she enjoys spending time with her calico cat, Moses, and her pet parakeet. If you have questions email her at [email protected].